A Bump In the Night

People scoff when I tell them we have a ghost in our house. And maybe rightly so. This is no tourist attraction ghost; we have never actually seen it. We have never seen some wispy apparition walking through walls. We have never seen some figure in the mirror that we couldn’t see when looking the other way. We have not seen floating lights, nor “funny things” out of the corner of our eye. We have never heard it moaning nor lamenting, although the incessant wailing by our house cats can be pretty eerie some nights. We have not heard chains clanging down the stairs. And we’ve never heard a horse come clip clopping to the door.

We have tried to find our ghost, or to catch it at its tricks, to no avail. When unusual things happen (they usually happen at night) I usually get out of bed and try to check things out. Sometimes these unusual events have very normal explanations. For instance, one night I thought I could hear some people talking. It sounded like they were very far away because I couldn’t make out what they were saying although I could distinctly hear voices. After quietly tiptoeing down the hall in complete darkness, I discovered the television was still on. Another time when I heard a peculiar clatter being repeated, I discovered that a venetian blind was fluttering in the wind due to an open window. I would say that in most cases funny noises at night have obvious and normal explanations.

But not always.

One of the most common things that happens is a thump in the middle of the night. Normally I am asleep when this happens and the thump wakes me up. Since I had been asleep, I hadn’t heard it clearly enough to determine location but I know it happened inside the house. This thump sounds like the cat having jumped off the kitchen counter. However, when I get up and check around, the cat is sound asleep. The dogs are also sleeping like nothing had occurred. In looking around there is no other obvious source of a thump, no broom fallen, no books lying on the floor, no objects out of place. No explanation.

The other common event is finding lights left on. Now, every night before bed I do my rounds through the house shutting off lights. Lights left on accidentally are easy to spot when it’s dark. So why do I sometimes find a light left on the following morning? There is one light where this mainly seems to happen. Isn’t that one of the signs of a ghost, that is, reappearing at the same location all the time? Well, this light (actually 2 lights) at the front door seems to come on by itself on a routine basis. Of course, since I know about it, I always check it out. How could it come on by itself?

Perhaps the most common inexplicable event has been food disappearing from counters in the kitchen. One night a plateful of cookies disappeared. The plate was left behind, and a few crumbs. Annoyed, my wife called out “Who ate the cookies?” “Not I”, “Not I”, “Not I”, was the reply. Anther time she had baked a cake and had prepared it for a meeting she was attending. Knowing the tastes of cookie thieves strayed to other treats, she explained the cake was special and that any cake thief would be severely dealt with. Sure enough, a few pieces went missing. “Who ate the cake?” “Not I”, “Not I”, “Not I”. “Well it must have been a ghost if no one here had any. It must have been “Charlie” the ghost”. And so, from that time, Charlie has been blamed for most of the unexplained things that happen around here.

Charlie got blamed for a lot of things when the kids were still living at home. You might think that when those kids left and moved to homes of their own that Charlie would leave as well. Strange to say, Charlie is still here. The front yard light still comes on mysteriously some nights. And more often that mysterious Charlie moves things around like reading glasses or car keys. “Honey, have you seen my reading glasses? I left them here right on the table?” “No, I haven’t seen them.” Some searching takes place. The glasses are not found. “Honey, I can’t find the glasses anywhere!” “Must have been Charlie!”

Posted in A View from the Outside, January 2012

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